The Premier League finally returns this weekend and fans are absolutely raring to go.
Manchester City will defend their crown once again from Liverpool, while the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham battle to make their way into the title fight, and Manchester United and Arsenal negotiate the different stages of their rebuilds.
Tantalising and enticing angles fall all the way down the table with eyes on Eddie Howe’s Newcastle in their first full season following a takeover, Everton following a shaky 2021/22 campaign and the Premier League’s not-so-newbies who have returned from the Championship.
Add the curveball that is the 2022 World Cup into the mix – being held from November to December – and we’ve got ourselves one seriously action-packed and undoubtedly unmissable dosage of Barclays action, ready and waiting for all to enjoy.
Pressure will be on all 20 clubs to deliver from the get go, as ever, with particular interest in how each manager will choose to set up their respective squads throughout the campaign. The allure always surrounds the unpredictable excitement of incoming transfers, but fresh faces doesn’t always guarantee success.
From youth prospects to rotation arms and utility signings, an unsung hero almost always emerges. Even for those clubs who flop.
Sesko to advance this week! (Football Terrace)
So, with that in mind, we at GIVEMESPORT have attempted to jump the gun and pick out the player at each club that hasn’t necessarily been tipped to set the world alight, but will ultimately end up proving a vital cog in the machine this season.
Arsenal – Emile Smith Rowe
After a red hot start to last season, form and crucially goal contributions seemed to fizzle away for Smith Rowe. Considering that he now faces increased competition for places following more solid recruitment, it’s fair to say that expectations have been lowered around the Englishman.
However, that could be exactly what he needs. The pressure is off and so is the onus on him to go and be The Gunners’ chief creator. With the shackles off and the season a long one, he’ll get the game time, and build the confidence to surprise a few once again.
Aston Villa – Matty Cash
Villa haven’t held back in the transfer market. Steven Gerrard is building a seriously exciting squad and fans are dreaming of a push for European football.
It would be easy to pick out a new signing, but we aren’t doing that. Instead, we’ve gone for Cash, who has been fine at full back, but could definitely be better. And we think he will be in a much more balanced and improved side next season. The Poland international will thrive.
Bournemouth – Kieffer Moore
Scott Parker has it all to do to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League. Recruitment so far has left a lot to be desired, and competition down at the bottom of the table is relentless.
Ultimately, they’ve got to find a way to score goals. Dominic Solanke did that in the Championship, but could come unstuck in the Premier League again. Enter super sub Moore. A big man with good feet, he’s the perfect asset to relieve the pressure in attack in those difficult months of the year.
Brentford – Yoane Wissa
25-year-old Wissa quietly impressed in his and Brentford’s first season in the Premier League, but isn’t the talk of the town when discussing the Bees. All the focus is on Ivan Toney, Bryan Mbeumo and the impending arrival of Mikkel Damsgaard from Sampdoria – understandably, too.
But with Wissa, Brentford have a seriously talented winger who can play on either flank, break beyond the last line of defence and weigh in with a goal. Expect him to improve on last season’s respectable tally of eight league goal contributions this time around.
Brighton – Moises Caicedo
Another Graham Potter masterstroke in recruitment, Brighton snapped up the Ecuadorian midfielder in early 2021, but recalled him from a loan spell halfway through last season to bolster their midfield.
We saw glimpses of his talent and high ceiling in that time, but expect those glimpses to turn into a full showing this season. Caicedo has had time to bed in and will enjoy plenty of possession to strut his stuff. One to watch.
Chelsea – Trevoh Chalobah
It’s hard picking out a name that flies under the radar in such a star-studded squad, but with Kalidou Koulibaly arriving, many have forgotten about the importance of Chalobah.
The 23-year-old broke into Thomas Tuchel’s side last season and adds tenacity, composure and youth to a back three of Koulibaly and Thiago Silva. He’ll be relied upon a lot more than people are perhaps expecting.
Crystal Palace – Will Hughes
Hughes only managed 16 league appearances in Patrick Vieira’s revived Crystal Palace outfit last season, but looked a dependable and creative asset every time he featured.
Aged 27 and coming into his peak years, the midfielder is a reliable hand and someone Vieira can put his trust in while his youthful squad continues to develop.
Everton – Alex Iwobi
In a relentless battle to keep Everton afloat last season, Frank Lampard ended up using directionless winger Iwobi in a deeper, more central role. And it worked a charm, to the surprise of many.
Iwobi showed his qualities in a deeper role where he could get on the ball earlier. It’s clear that he can play a key role for The Toffees in a newfound position and should be given the licence to do so, while Lampard finds some continuity.
Fulham – Andreas Pereira
Harry Wilson was going to be the player to watch at Fulham, but after suffering an injury in pre-season, his start to the campaign has been derailed completely.
That puts an extra pressure on Pereira to come in and deliver from the off, which he is absolutely capable of doing. He wasn’t at the required level to strut his stuff at Old Trafford, but a move down the Premier League after a few years of experience suits him down to a tee. Leading from the front.
Leeds – Sam Greenwood
Perhaps a surprise pick considering the summer they’ve had, 20-year-old Greenwood didn’t drastically turn heads in his seven league appearances last season, but he clearly earned the trust of Jesse Marsch in the end.
And with Patrick Bamford’s injury record looking shaky, Greenwood will probably feature a lot more regularly this season. In what could be his first true breakthrough campaign, Marsch’s intended style of play could lend itself nicely to the youngster.
Leicester – Patson Daka
Daka understandably struggled with the step up from the Austrian Bundesliga to the Premier League in his maiden season at the King Power Stadium, scoring just five times in the league.
However, Jamie Vardy isn’t getting any younger and the 23-year-old Zambia international is a season more experienced than last time out. He’ll be relied upon much more as the campaign progresses, and should relish the opportunity.
Liverpool – Roberto Firmino
Darwin Nunez this, Diogo Jota that – everyone’s forgetting about the importance of Firmino and it’s rather criminal.
He’s been linked with a move away to Juventus this summer, but it appears as though an exit was blocked and for good reason. When the going gets tough for Nunez this season, the Reds need someone to hang their hats on. Firmino will show just how important he is as a senior head in the squad.
Manchester City – Kalvin Phillips
Signed from Leeds this summer, we back Phillips to feature much more regularly than people are probably anticipating.
Pep Guardiola loves to rotate his squad. That policy will no doubt go into overdrive with the interruption of the World Cup in winter, while Phillips gives him a chance to rest Rodri for those all-important Champions League nights.
Manchester United – Scott McTominay
Death, taxes, and McTominay proving important to another United manager. Fans don’t want to hear it, but it’s the truth. He will prove useful to Ten Hag.
With some actual coaching for the first time in years and the protection of a system that is more beneficial – and some very healthy squad rotation, ideally – the Scotland international will look reborn. Trust us. McSauce is coming back.
Newcastle – Joe Willock
It didn’t go to plan for Willock after he made his move to Newcastle a permanent one, but with the takeover shenanigans settled down and Eddie Howe firmly in the driving seat, he should pick up again.
There’s undoubtedly a talented player in there. And considering Howe’s track record when it comes to getting the most out of talented, young, English players, you can just see Willock thriving at the Magpies this season.
Nottingham Forest – Steve Cook
A boring pick, but a vitally important one.
Cook is 31 – prime age for a defender – was key to Forest’s promotion and has experienced the difficulties of the Premier League in recent seasons. In a season that is merely about surviving, he’ll be key on and off the pitch in getting through the tougher moments.
Southampton – Armel Bella-Kotchap
For a club that has a habit of conceding nine goals worryingly regularly, signing a very highly rated Bundesliga defender was a very shrewd piece of business.
Bella-Kotchap looked a seriously bright prospect while at VfL Bochum. His first season won’t be smooth sailing, but he’ll absolutely shore things up at the back for Southampton if trusted to find his feet.
Tottenham – Lucas Moura
Ah, the Antonio Conte effect. We were considering Ivan Perisic for Spurs, but the truth is it’s just too predictable – we all know he’s going to be key this season.
Conte had started to experiment with the idea of Moura playing as a right wing-back in pre-season. The Brazilian is technically sound and a work horse, thus he’ll feature prominently for Conte, wherever he is needed. Not a name that excites Tottenham fans anymore, but a dependable figure.
West Ham – Craig Dawson
Nobody expected Dawson to jump from relegated West Brom to West Ham and have the impact on the first XI that he’s managed to have – probably not even West Ham fans.
But alas, the English defender and Premier League’s resident hard man has defied the odds and proven himself to be absolutely vital at the back. He’s not flashy or fancy, nor did he cost a lot in the transfer market, but he sure is important.
Wolves – Hwang Hee-chan
Turbulent is the best way to describe Hwang’s 2021/22 season. It was obvious that his supreme talent was there, but he often blew very hot and cold, which was the issue all too often for Wolves last time out.
However, with Bruno Lage settled in and the worrying run that plagued the end of last season out of the way, the South Korean forward should thrive this time around. He’s a brilliant technician and has the eye for goal, and we back him to find his stride as a result of that.